1 John 5:13-21

Home / 1 John / 1 John 5:13-21

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Observation

  • John is writing to believers.
  • John wrote this letter so that the recipients who believe in Jesus, may know they have eternal life.
  • It is possible to know and have certainty that you have eternal life.
  • We may be confident that if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us.
  • If God hears us, we have what we request, present tense.
  • If we see a brother sinning we should pray for God to give him life, unless the sin is one leading to death.
  • God will give life to those who do not commit a sin which leads to death.
  • John is not saying to pray for those who commit a sin which leads to death.
  • All wrongdoing is sin.
  • There is a sin which leads to death.
  • Anyone who is born of God does not keep on sinning.
  • God protects those who have been born of God.
  • Satan cannot touch anyone born of God.
  • John’s readers were born of God.
  • The whole world lies in the power of Satan.
  • John’s readers knew the Son of God has come.
  • The Son of God has given us understanding.
  • Christ has given us understanding so we may know Him.
  • God is truth.
  • We are in God and His son Jesus.
  • Jesus is the true God
  • Jesus is the eternal life.
  • We are to stay away from idols

 

Interpretation

Again John reassures his readers that they can know they possess eternal life. Additionally, John assures his readers their prayers will be answered so long as they pray according to God’s will. This is not to say that there are magic words such as “I ask this according to your will” This is having confidence in the providence of God. The qualification John places on the promise of answered prayer is the request must be in accordance with God’s will.

John then says to pray for fellow believers who commit a sin so long as it is not “a sin not leading to death”. This has caused a great deal of confusion as to what is the sin that leads to death. What does John mean by this? This is where I believe the 3 rules of biblical interpretation can be helpful. The 3 rules of biblical interpretation are context, context and context. Why was John writing this letter? He was writing the letter because there were those who were with the church then separated themselves from the church and were opposing the message of the gospel. While the text is not clear as to what the sin is that leads to death, it is most probable that John has in mind the actions of the secessionists.

Let’s look at what is clear from the text. John states clearly that all wrongdoing is sin. I grew up in a tradition that defined sin as “a willful transgression of the known law of God.” Clearly John disagrees with that definition. Sin is doing anything that is wrong. It does not matter if it is intentional or not. It does not matter rather or not you knew better. All wrongdoing is sin.

Second there is a sin that leads to death. Some have thought this refers to a physical death. While there are numerous places in both the Old and New Testaments where sin results in physical death or illness that does not appear to be the what John has in mind here. Again context is helpful here. The occasion of John’s writing is the opponents who seceded from the community of believers. By leaving the fellowship they showed they did not belong to it and were never really believers to begin with (1 John 2:18-19). They went back into the world (1 John 4:1) and the world received them, because they said what the world wanted to hear. (1 John 4:5). The “sin resulting to death” then must refer to the Christological heresy of theses opponents. This sealed their fate. Denying Jesus is the Son of God and has come in the flesh leads to death.

Verse 18 “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” should not be taken out of context. John is not saying that those who have been redeemed do not and cannot sin. But certainly this sentence, if it stood on its own, seems to say just that. But again applying the 3 rules of Biblical interpretation, context, context, context we notice that just 2 verses earlier John mentions that fellow brothers do sin. Verse 16 “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin…” Therefore this needs to be understood just as 3: 9 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning…” John is saying the same thing in 5:18 as he did in 3:9. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not make a practice of sinning.

John ends his letter with a summary of the letter.

  1. The assurance of knowing we are from God.
  2. The Son of God has come
  3. We are in God and His son Jesus.
  4. Jesus is the true God
  5. Jesus is the eternal life.

Denial of these is idolatry. John’s parting sentence is to keep from idolatry

Application

This ending section of first epistle from John ends with comforting words. We can know. In fact, we do know that we have eternal life and God hears our prayers and answers them. If we ask according to God’s will we can be sure we have them. We need to pray for each other. If we notice a brother sin, our response should not be, “Well that is between him and God.” No! Our response is to support our brother with prayer so that he may repent. Realize also that we (that is you and me) sin and need to repent. Yes we will and do sin. After all, all wrongdoing is sin. But we can have confidence that God in His mercy and for His glory has redeemed us and given us eternal life. He will hear our prayer of repentance and forgive our sins for that is His will.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *